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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-12-2011, 01:31 PM
ilian007 ilian007 is offline
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Changing Brake Fluid on 140k miles didnt make a diffence for me

Hello guys,

I just changed my E39 - 2001 BMW 530i Brake fluid. The car has 140k miles on it and the brake fluid was never changed. That's why i decided it might be a good idea to change it.

However, the brakes worked perfect before, and they work as same after I changed the brake fluid.

In my eyes the car didnt need the procedure. The fluid was darkish, but overall in good liquid condition(not as paste). The system didnt have any blockages or leaks.

However, many say there should be a difference if you change it about every 2-3 years or 30k miles.

What is your expirience?
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  #2  
Old 09-12-2011, 01:36 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilian007 View Post
Hello guys,

I just changed my E39 - 2001 BMW 530i Brake fluid. The car has 140k miles on it and the brake fluid was never changed. That's why i decided it might be a good idea to change it.

However, the brakes worked perfect before, and they work as same after I changed the brake fluid.

In my eyes the car didnt need the procedure. The fluid was darkish, but overall in good liquid condition(not as paste). The system didnt have any blockages or leaks.

However, many say there should be a difference if you change it about every 2-3 years or 30k miles.

What is your expirience?


Dark is not good as that is an indication of rust and sediments in the fluid. Notice how clear the new fluid is? Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture over time. This moisture in the fluid lowers boiling points and causes metal in the system to rust. BMW recommends fluid changes ever 2 years.

Given a bottle cost just $6 (Valvoline), there is not reason not to change it as recommended. Aside from the tires, it 's the only thing keeping you from hitting anything else. IF you wait for a paste form, you will have no braking power.

BTW, at your mileage, if you want to experience a difference, suggest you change your brake hoses. All 6 of them and I guarantee you WILL feel a difference.

Last edited by dvsgene; 09-12-2011 at 01:38 PM.
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  #3  
Old 09-12-2011, 01:38 PM
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never made a huge difference when I changed mine either. I think its better then the alternitive, finding out your brake fluid is shot and your brakes dont want to work properly while driving, thus making you think to change it. New engine oil doesnt make my car run any better either, but I still change it often.. Maintience, its a good thing.
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Last edited by Nline6; 09-12-2011 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:39 PM
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Having fresh fluid can prolong the life of the hydraulic parts and calipers. Used brake fluid can accumulate moisture which in turn can rust and then seize the pistons and shorten the life of the master/slave cylinders.

It's cheap insurance against having to perform some expensive repairs.

It's probably not a bad thing you didn't notice a huge difference after changing your brake fluid. This may mean the previous owner took good care of your car.
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:45 PM
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I had the same procedure done on mine, no difference, but the state of mind when it was completed was priceless.
Old oil was dark, actually charcoal black... as far as viscosity, it was pretty good, not paste like at all.
I can sleep much better at night with a 20$ investment
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  #6  
Old 09-12-2011, 01:46 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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BTW, in normal driving, 140k miles old brake fluid may in fact be ok for normal driving.

HOWEVER, if you were to use that 10 year old fluid while driving down a mountain pass and/or track or stop and go traffic, you will feel a difference once the fluid reaches the lowered boiling point in the form of decreased or no braking power.

Moreover, rust and moisture in the system can cause stuck or seized calipers. While it may not show up as a difference but when your brake pads on one or both side only last 10k miles, you will know it is due to neglected brake fluid.

So the difference is not in such a directly noticeable way.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:00 PM
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What did you expect? Did you think it was gonna feel like you have 6-piston brembos? It is a maintenance item, not an upgrade. As other's have said brake fluid breaks down over time and loses it's ability to avoid compression in the hydraulic system.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:16 PM
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+1, can you feel the difference when you change your oil? Probably not unless your butt dyno is more sensitive than mine. And dvsgene is right. You will definitely notice it if you coast down a long mountain road as the lowered boiling point is the most important performance reason for changing brake fluid. As others have said, preventing corrosion is the other.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilian007 View Post
Hello guys,

I just changed my E39 - 2001 BMW 530i Brake fluid. The car has 140k miles on it and the brake fluid was never changed. That's why i decided it might be a good idea to change it.

However, the brakes worked perfect before, and they work as same after I changed the brake fluid.

In my eyes the car didnt need the procedure. The fluid was darkish, but overall in good liquid condition(not as paste). The system didnt have any blockages or leaks.

However, many say there should be a difference if you change it about every 2-3 years or 30k miles.

What is your expirience?
Brake fluid is changed based on time, not mileage.

It absorbs water, which is a contaminant. It may / will cause issues in the travel of the master cylinder and wheel cylinders, and other plumbing in the brake system.

The other issue is that the water in the line may boil when heated. This is not what you want to have happen descending the Stelvio Pass. Water boiling and turning into a gas resulting in your brake pedal sinking to the floor is not a Good Situation to Be In.

Good work changing the fluid. I try and do mine every two years.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
BTW, at your mileage, if you want to experience a difference, suggest you change your brake hoses. All 6 of them and I guarantee you WILL feel a difference.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:28 PM
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OP, that new brake fluid gave you 15 more HP !
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:30 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I think you will benefit from reading on the internet on the "importance of changing brake fluid".

Ditto on the 6 brake hoses. I just changed all 6 hoses + all rubber seals/dust boots on all 4 brake calipers for $140 in parts.
Search for the DIY.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
I think you will benefit from reading on the internet on the "importance of changing brake fluid".

Ditto on the 6 brake hoses. I just changed all 6 hoses + all rubber seals/dust boots on all 4 brake calipers for $140 in parts.
Search for the DIY.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
Dark is not good as that is an indication of rust and sediments in the fluid. Notice how clear the new fluid is? Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture over time. This moisture in the fluid lowers boiling points and causes metal in the system to rust. BMW recommends fluid changes ever 2 years.

Given a bottle cost just $6 (Valvoline), there is not reason not to change it as recommended. Aside from the tires, it 's the only thing keeping you from hitting anything else. IF you wait for a paste form, you will have no braking power.

BTW, at your mileage, if you want to experience a difference, suggest you change your brake hoses. All 6 of them and I guarantee you WILL feel a difference.
Hoses? Interesting! And what difference may one experience besides just flashing the fluid? I'm due for a brake flush and may just add this on the menu.....
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:45 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Originally Posted by ilian007 View Post

In my eyes the car didnt need the procedure. The fluid was darkish, but overall in good liquid condition(not as paste). The system didnt have any blockages or leaks.
So by your analogy, when changing engine oil, if it dark, still in liquid form and has not sludged yet, you may not need to change your oil yet? Best to wait until it does get pasty and blocking passages so you can see and feel a difference?

Sight and smell or viscosity is no way to determine the health of any fluids. A proper lab analysis is. However, given the cost of lab analysis, we simply change it as preventative measure for the long term good of the car.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mawana View Post
Hoses? Interesting! And what difference may one experience besides just flashing the fluid? I'm due for a brake flush and may just add this on the menu.....
Have you ever flushed your fluid before? If so, you will notice sediments flowing out and the fluid is dark. This is a combination of the rust in the system from moisture AND tiny bits and pieces of the rubber floating in the fluid.

IF you take a close look at your hoses, you may see bulging or softening. When you press on the brake and the hose is soft or bulging, take a guess where the pressure goes? Certainly not all to the calipers.

At 8-14 years on the brakes, hoses will deteriorate from the inside out IF the hoses hasn't be chaffed on the outside.

While there is a debate over new hoses vs stainless steel braided hoses, the theory is that stainless steel hoses prevent deterioration, bulging and stay rigid far longer than standard rubber hoses.
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
Have you ever flushed your fluid before? If so, you will notice sediments flowing out and the fluid is dark. This is a combination of the rust in the system from moisture AND tiny bits and pieces of the rubber floating in the fluid.

IF you take a close look at your hoses, you may see bulging or softening. When you press on the brake and the hose is soft or bulging, take a guess where the pressure goes? Certainly not all to the calipers.

At 8-14 years on the brakes, hoses will deteriorate from the inside out IF the hoses hasn't be chaffed on the outside.

While there is a debate over new hoses vs stainless steel braided hoses, the theory is that stainless steel hoses prevent deterioration, bulging and stay rigid far longer than standard rubber hoses.
Got you! Just that last I researched on this was from a performance stand-point looking at the steel brake lines which consensus suggested weren't necessary on a street car. Based on my mileage, I guess I need to do this...
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:18 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Got you! Just that last I researched on this was from a performance stand-point looking at the steel brake lines which consensus suggested weren't necessary on a street car. Based on my mileage, I guess I need to do this...
Sometimes you can get a set of stainless steel braided for the cost of a set of OEM rubber hoses so it pays to shop around. While there may be little performance advantage initially, the stainless will definitely stay rigid longer and bulge less years later.
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:18 PM
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About a year ago I finally managed to convince one of my friends to change the brake fluid (BMW owner). I also told him about the water contamination.
While we pulled the wheels to have better access, I noticed on the left front wheel, the piston caliper seal looked kinda odd.
So instead of an easy flush, we decided to pull out the caliper and have a look. Good thing we did. The guy had the brake fluid last changed about 5 or 6 years prior. I believe there was quite a bit of water accumulated in there. The fluid looked brownish & very dark, and the piston caliper was pitted. I asked him if he experienced shimmy while braking, and he had for about 1/2 year. The same corrosion can hit some expensive brake system parts. ABS and master cylinder comes to mind.
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:23 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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[SIZE=2]
So instead of an easy flush, we decided to pull out the caliper and have a look. Good thing we did. The guy had the brake fluid last changed about 5 or 6 years prior. I believe there was quite a bit of water accumulated in there. The fluid looked brownish & very dark, and the piston caliper was pitted.

Not surprised. This is because water is denser (heavier) than brake fluid so it settles on the lowest part of the system. The lowest part of the system is the bottom of the caliper.

OP, if you managed to still keep the drained brake fluid, pour it into a clear container. After 2 days, I bet you will see the water settle out and realize 1/2 of that fluid is not longer brake fluid but water.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:18 PM
ilian007 ilian007 is offline
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Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
Dark is not good as that is an indication of rust and sediments in the fluid. Notice how clear the new fluid is? Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture over time. This moisture in the fluid lowers boiling points and causes metal in the system to rust. BMW recommends fluid changes ever 2 years.

Given a bottle cost just $6 (Valvoline), there is not reason not to change it as recommended. Aside from the tires, it 's the only thing keeping you from hitting anything else. IF you wait for a paste form, you will have no braking power.

BTW, at your mileage, if you want to experience a difference, suggest you change your brake hoses. All 6 of them and I guarantee you WILL feel a difference.
Thanks for the respond. Can you tell me something more about the brake hoses replacement. I was reading in that forum about maintenance of the brakes, but never heard of replacing the hoses ?

I used ATE TYP200 fluid 1Liter - $14.50 from Amazon

Thanks
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:23 PM
ilian007 ilian007 is offline
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How(from where) it absorbs water since the system is hermetically closed ?

Thanks
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:36 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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Originally Posted by ilian007 View Post
Thanks for the respond. Can you tell me something more about the brake hoses replacement. I was reading in that forum about maintenance of the brakes, but never heard of replacing the hoses ?

I used ATE TYP200 fluid 1Liter - $14.50 from Amazon

Thanks
What do you need to know? I explained about deteriorating rubber above. The 4 hoses at each corner are obvious, there are 2 more inside the engine by the ABS module. There are a few DIY writeups around. You will need a 11mm FLARED wrench to remove the hoses.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ilian007 View Post
How(from where) it absorbs water since the system is hermetically closed ?

Thanks

It may be sealed but certainly not hermetically. Humidity is in the air all year round, the caliper seals when intact do keep out most dust out but certainly not air or moisture in the air. The brakes do not operate in a vacuum. You think 10 year old rubber doesn't crack allowing air and moisture in?

Even brake fluid manufacturers recommend not to store sealed PLASTIC bottles of brake fluid around longer than 2 years as moisture can be absorbed through the bottle. That's why some of the high end brake fluids come in a metal container. Less porous.

Do a google search for hygroscopic if you are still unsure about where moisture comes from.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:41 PM
ilian007 ilian007 is offline
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Originally Posted by dvsgene View Post
What do you need to know? I explained about deteriorating rubber above. The 4 hoses at each corner are obvious, there are 2 more inside the engine by the ABS module. There are a few DIY writeups around. You will need a 11mm FLARED wrench to remove the hoses.





It may be sealed but certainly not hermetically. Humidity is in the air all year round, the caliper seals when intact do keep out most dust out but certainly not air or moisture in the air. The brakes do not operate in a vacuum. You think 10 year old rubber doesn't crack allowing air and moisture in?

Even brake fluid manufacturers recommend not to store sealed PLASTIC bottles of brake fluid around longer than 2 years as moisture can be absorbed through the bottle. That's why some of the high end brake fluids come in a metal container. Less porous.

Do a google search for hygroscopic if you are still unsure about where moisture comes from.
That's true my fluid was in metal container I guess it helps that I leave in north california where the humidity is very low ...
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:57 PM
dvsgene dvsgene is offline
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That's true my fluid was in metal container I guess it helps that I leave in north california where the humidity is very low ...
Even if it is not humid, condensation is in the air every night after sunset and shows up as dew on the grass and your car in the morning. Your car isn't hermetically sealed is it?
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Old 09-12-2011, 05:15 PM
ilian007 ilian007 is offline
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Even if it is not humid, condensation is in the air every night after sunset and shows up as dew on the grass and your car in the morning. Your car isn't hermetically sealed is it?
hahahah, nope it is just in the garage at night

I will now create another thread about my fuel filter, and spark plugs I replaced them as well in the weekend after 140k miles on it
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